Secoya v Occidental
Ecuador Action Alert
by Jen Smith
"Occidental brought gifts of pots and pans for our kitchens. But what we need to realize is that with the company's presence on our land, we will have nothing to put in those pots and pans. We need long term sustainable life and buisness in our jungle, not toxic chemicals contaminating our rivers." Secoyan Naturlist Guide
Native Secoyan people from Northeastern Ecuador along the
Aguarico River are sending out an action alert to supporters of
The last six months have been full of struggle. The United States based company, Occidental Petroleum (OXY), has been pressuring the 450 remaining Secoya people to sell the rights to drill for oil on all 42,000 hectares of traditional territory. Until recently, the Secoya people, who rely heavily on hunting, fishing, and gathering to complement small scale cultivation of cash and subsistence crops, have prohibited oil development in their forest.
OXY has used deceitful tactics to divide native people.
Aluminum canoes, solar panels, computers, less than $1000 per
family, and Christmas toys have infiltrated the schools and homes
of the community. Political officials from the Secoya community
have been taken to five star hotels in the capital and led on
vacations to the coast and United States. Secoya people have been
promised top positions and highly paid jobs within the company.
Following this insidious game of bribes and unlikely promises,
the community opened into electoral process over the question of
the company's exploration. 70% voted for OXY's right to enter
while 30% strongly defended the right to remain independent from
oil drilling on traditional land.
For the past 30 years, neighboring peoples in the Ecuadorian Amazon have been poisoned by the process of oil exploration. Occidental Petroleum has already wreaked havoc in Quichua communities where they have shown absolutley no regard for settled areas, destroying gardens and homes in the town of Limoncocha.
The Effects of Petroleum Development
These communities affected by petroleum development have been plagued by an onslaught of health problems such as cancer, skin rashes, spontaneous abortion, and birth defects. Due to ruptures in pipe lines and waste pits left unlined and open next to drilling sites, raw crude oil, toxic drilling waster, formation water (pumped with the petroleum containing arsenic, cyanide, lead, and mercury) is dumped into water sources.
The heavy rains and lack of environmental controls in the
Ecuadorian Amazon exacerbate the problem of waste run off,
allowing US companies to contaminate the entire zone with no
consequences. A severely contaminated Shuara community near the
oil boom town of Lago Agrio, has a 98% malnutrition rate because
the main source of protein, fish in local rivers, have been
killed by pollutants. And in the past twenty-five years, three
major ruptures have coated the Aguarico River with a 40
centimeters deep petroleum cap, forcing Secoya people to fish
miles away in smaller tributaries.
Exploration on Secoya land has already begun.
The first stage of exploration on Secoya land has already begun. This has involved seismic studies by gridding the entire concession with trails and detonating underground explosives at regular intervals along the trails. Explosions have scared away local game that will never return to cleared areas. Outraged by corporate bribery and the beginning stages of clear cuts for highways, heliports, and drilling station, the 30% opposed are on campaign to halt OXY's destruction of their livelihood and sustenance. The opposed are asking that supporters in the United States demand that OXY remove itself from Secoya territory. They believe that the means they used to buy out a culture is inhumane and ultimately forcing a peole to work towards its own ethnocide is against human rights. They are inviting delegates from all interested parties to come witness and document what is occurring to the Secoya people and their rainforest.
What You Can Do
The CEO of Occidental Petroleum, Ray Irani, can be located at
10889 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90024, at 213-879-1700. Demand
that OXY leave Secoya territory.
All interested supporters can contact Cesar Piaguaje in
Ecuador at Casa de La Cultura, 18 de Noviembre y Av. Colombia,
Nueva Loja, Sucumbios, telf:06-830-624 or
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